Curry nation, Britain’s 100 favourite curries, 224pp.
by Madhur Jaffrey
Cooking on page 132
We love curries. It’s probably just as well because, over the last three years, we’ve spent almost six months in India and eaten some version of curry virtually three times a day.
The British love curries too: so much so that the country’s former favourite dish, fish and chips, has been replaced by chicken tikka masala. Madhur Jaffrey includes her recipe for this dish, but it is on pages 76–78.
Page 32 doesn’t have a recipe, so I moved on to 132 and one of my favourite ingredients—chickpeas (often called garbanzo beans). This north Indian recipe is from Sarita Udaniya of the Chaat House in Leicester.
Chickpeas with tomato (chhole)
200g (7oz) dried chickpeas
½ large onion, finely chopped, plus 1 medium onion, finely sliced
2½ centimetres (1 inch) peeled root ginger, cut into slivers
3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 tablespoons tomato purée
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
The night before, wash the chickpeas well, then place in a large bowl with 1.5 litres (2¾ pints) of water.
Next day, put the chickpeas and their soaking liquid into a large, deep pot about 25 centimetres (10 inches) in diameter, along with the chopped onion and the ginger. Bring to a boil over a high heat. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low and cook slowly for one to three hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender. (Or you could use a pressure cooker. Cook on full pressure for 17 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pressure drop by itself.) Drain the chickpeas and set aside, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the cooking liquid to make it up to 375ml (13 fl oz).
Clean out and dry the same pot. Pour in the oil and set it over a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the sliced onion and stir and fry for about five minutes, or until it turns light brown. Mix in the tomato purée and stir well for two minutes. Add the salt and return the chickpeas to the pot. Mix well. Pour in the reserved chickpea liquid and bring to a simmer. Add the garam masala and simmer over a low heat uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.
How it played out
Lyn and Pete, our neighbours at the South Coast, were coming to Canberra for a couple of days, so I offered to make them one of my Indian feasts. This is when I make at least one more curry than the number of guests who are coming.
That means I have to start the proceedings at least two days in advance and that works perfectly when you need to remember to soak the chickpeas the day before.
I made this recipe as written (not using a pressure cooker because I don’t have one). I used garam masala that I bought in India about six months ago. Great flavour.
Besides rice, served with chicken kabuli, paneer palak and a corn curry (recipes available on request). And a big plus was that I could serve it in one of the lovely copper bowls I bought in India.
I love chickpeas in all forms and this recipe did not disappoint. I plan to soak dried peas regularly, just so I can make dishes like this on the spur of the moment.
Here’s a post from my travel blog on one of the delicious meals we had while in India.